Florida unions ponder 11th-hour injunction to extend federal unemployment benefit beyond Saturday

The Florida AFL-CIO and other advocates are aggressively lobbying Gov. Ron DeSantis for an 11th-hour extension of the $300 weekly federal unemployment supplement that expires in the Sunshine State the week beginning June 26, which is Saturday.

The union delivered a petition signed by more than 7,000 Floridians to the Governor’s Office Thursday asking DeSantis to “reverse his decision” and extend the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplement through its Congressionally approved Sept. 6 sunset.

Florida AFL-CIO Director of Politics & Public Policy Rich Templin told reporters during a virtual news conference that ending the FPUC makes no sense.

“These are federal funds,” he said. “It costs the state nothing. Yet the governor seems to be willing to leave those dollars on the table in service of a disproven talking point.”

That “talking point” is the $300 FPUC makes it more attractive for some to stay home rather than work. By ending participation, Florida’s unemployed now must live on the state’s $275 weekly payout, the nation’s lowest.

That’s a faulty logic, Templin said. “The governor is hurting individuals and taking money from taxpayers that will be sent to other states,” he said.

It could also be legally liable logic, Templin said. If DeSantis does not extend the FPUC, the state could face a lawsuit, he said, including petitioning for an injunction sometime Saturday to prevent the order from going into effect.

“We have reached out to investigate that option,” Templin said. “We’re hopeful the governor will do the right thing. It doesn’t hurt the state at all. It’s literally federal dollars.”

According to The Century Foundation, a New York-Washington based progressive research nonprofit, 116,304 Floridians will be denied FPUC benefits totaling $418 million that could have been spent in local economies between June 26 and Sept. 6.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) weekly unemployment update posted Thursday documents that there were 80,513 Floridians collecting unemployment benefits on June 19, down from 109,193 on June 12 – a decline of 28,680 in one week.

According to the report, Floridians filed 6,792 new claims during the week ending June 19. The week before, nearly 10,000 new claims were filed, the DOL said.

It is unlikely DeSantis will back down from his May 24 announcement that Florida would be among the 26 states to discontinue the FPUC because there are more jobs than job-seekers in the state.

“The reason is simple: We’ve got almost a half-a-million job openings in the state of Florida,” he said in Miami when he announced the decision. “No matter where I go in the state of Florida, people will tell me, ‘Florida’s great, thanks for what you’re doing, governor, we just need to find more people to want to work. So, the jobs are there. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve got a lot of economic momentum.”

The decision is lauded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Retail Federation, the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) Florida chapter, trade associations and individual small businesses.

But claiming the FPUC influenced workers to stay home is a “disproven talking point,” Templin said, citing an analysis by the job site Indeed that found states that ended the FPUC are not seeing a surge in job applicants.

In fact, according to Indeed, despite ending FPUC last month, job searches in Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri were 4% below the national average. Eight states that ended benefits June 19 saw job search activity about 1% lower.

“We’re being told we are having a hiring crisis because people would rather stay home making less than minimum wage. And that’s just not true,” Templin said.

This article was originally posted on Florida unions ponder 11th-hour injunction to extend federal unemployment benefit beyond Saturday

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